Charles Town Families File Lawsuit Against Richmond American Homes

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Alleged Fraudulent Radon Removal Systems Installed in New Homes

A passive radon removal system is intended to act as a safeguard to families, protecting them from breathing in this silent killer and preventing them from developing lung cancer

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Today, approximately one hundred homeowners in the Locust Hill subdivision in Charles Town (Jefferson County), West Virginia filed a lawsuit (Circuit Court of Jefferson County Case #08-C-431) against Richmond American Homes concerning the failure of Richmond American Homes to properly equip their homes with passive radon removal systems. This is the second such lawsuit against Richmond American Homes by residents of Locust Hill, with the first lawsuit (Case #08-C-204) filed this past May and currently in discovery. Both lawsuits state that Richmond American Homes, headquartered in Denver, Colorado with homes built in twelve states, including Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, failed to properly install passive radon removal systems. These radon removal systems are specifically required by local building code, since Jefferson County, West Virginia is located in a high radon area.

Radon is a colorless and odorless radioactive gas that is created from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that over 20,000 Americans are killed each year by lung cancer caused by radon. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer deaths behind smoking.

The EPA seeks to achieve the lowest technically achievable and most cost effective levels of indoor radon in new residential buildings. One method of achieving this goal is to utilize a passive radon removal system in all new residential construction. A passive radon removal system allows the radon to be exhausted to the outside after being suctioned away from the soil surface. This is the method required in all new residential buildings by the Jefferson County, West Virginia Building Code.

According to the lawsuit, the first problem with the radon removal systems in Richmond American-built houses was discovered two years ago when one homeowner was attempting to sell his house. A radon specialist discovered that the pipe labeled "radon" in the basement was really for sewage from an upstairs toilet. There was no radon removal system. Gradually, other homeowners learned that their homes had incomplete or fake systems. Attorney Andrew Skinner of the Skinner Law Firm in Charles Town asked Richmond American Homes to inspect the radon levels and radon removal systems of all Richmond American Homes built in West Virginia. Richmond American refused, so Skinner, who also lives in a Richmond American-built house with a faulty system, attempted to inform as many neighbors as possible of the problem. "A passive radon removal system is intended to act as a safeguard to families, protecting them from breathing in this silent killer and preventing them from developing lung cancer," said Skinner. "We have tested nearly 50 homes, and not one single home has complied with building codes. Not surprisingly, around a third had high radon levels." According to the EPA, a properly installed passive radon removal system should reduce radon levels by half. "That these systems were never installed, or were installed improperly, in an area like ours with high radon levels, is simply wrong." The Skinner Firm is willing to furnish legal documents, photos, and interview sources. Visit Andrew Skinner's blog at http://www.radonlawyer.blogspot.com for more information.

October 20-26 is National Radon Action Week. The EPA urges that people take these important steps during National Radon Action Week: test your home, educate yourself about radon, attend a National Radon Action Week event, and spread the word about radon. To learn more about radon and how to protect your family, visit http://www.epa.gov/radon.

Media Contact:
Sandy Sponaugle
(304) 876-8321
sandy@platinumpr.com

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